- - Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Washington Nationals may be the most enigmatic team in the Major Leagues.

They have the third-best record in the National League but have a bullpen ERA of 6.06 going into Sunday’s home game with Milwaukee.

And they have not had ace pitcher Max Scherzer, who has been on the injured list since July 26.

Scherzer hopes to pitch Thursday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, according to manager Dave Martinez.

“I feel good. I am sore in all of the right spots,” Scherzer said Sunday, after throwing a simulated game Saturday.

Martinez said Scherzer has been ornery during the process, and Scherzer readily agreed.

“A really good assessment,” Scherzer said.

Scherzer is not worried about his long-term health. “That is not even part of the equation,” he said.

Scherzer missed his 20th game Saturday with a mild rhomboid strain as his team lost 15-14 in 14 innings to the Brewers.

It was the franchise’s third-longest regular-season game since 2005, and the seven home runs they allowed were the most since the team moved to Washington 14 years ago.

Washington (66-56) was 5 1/2 games back of first-place Atlanta going into play Sunday. The Nationals held the top spot in the Wild Card race in the National League.

Washington is one of the best team in the majors since late May, when the Nationals were 19-31.

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